The New York Times issued new social media guidelines for its reporters Friday, warning them against posting things on social media that could be construed as “biased” or “partisan.”
The guidelines, created with the input of the outlets’ top reporters, are meant to protect TheNYT’s reputation and prevent accusations of bias from readers, executive editor Dean Baquet announced in a release.
“In social media posts, our journalists must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts The Times’s journalistic reputation,” the guidelines read. “Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that The Times is seeking to cover objectively.”
Other recommendations include journalists not making complaints about customer service over Twitter, refraining from joining groups on Facebook that can be seen as partisan (unless covering them for an article) and being respectful to readers who may criticize NYT articles. Journalists should not block readers who criticize them, but are free to do so if a reader turns abusive.
“If you are linking to other sources, aim to reflect a diverse collection of viewpoints. Sharing a range of news, opinions or satire from others is usually appropriate. But consistently linking to only one side of a debate can leave the impression that you, too, are taking sides,” the guidelines read.
The new guidelines come after Baquet argued that journalists shouldn’t be sharing their personal opinions with the public, as it makes it hard for the publication to say it is covering the administration aggressively but fairly.
“We’re doing this because it’s journalistically sound, we’re not doing this because we have a vendetta or [because] we’re trying to take him out, and I can’t do that if I have 100 people working for the New York Times sending inappropriate tweets,” Baquet said.
Journalists should ask themselves questions before they tweet or post something if they are unsure if it is biased or not. They should question whether they would print it in TheNYT and whether it would cause people to doubt that the outlet can cover events fairly.
“As you can see, we have tried to strike a balance. We want our newsroom to embrace social media, which offers us so many opportunities to connect with readers, listeners and viewers (not to mention sources), extending the reach of The Times,” the guidelines read.
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